September, National Suicide Prevention month, is personal to me because I have lost friends and family to suicide. I ask myself often if there was anything I could have done to save them.
And here is my big step out of the closet- This is personal to me because I have suffered from depression most of my life. At least as far back as I can remember.
Before you start thinking that I am trying to “get attention” or “looking for sympathy”. Know this: when I am in the deep dark hell of depression; I typically do not want ANY attention, or interaction with anyone.
I lose a lot of friends when I am depressed. They tire of hearing my tale of woe. No one likes a Debbie Downer. So, you know what I do? I isolate. I am tired of hearing myself be sad, and certainly don’t want to subject the people I love to…to me. I feel like the best way to be a friend is to let them off the hook- remove their obligation to talk to me. But depression thrives in isolation. I know that too, logically, but depression isn’t logical. You can’t necessarily critically think your way out of it.
If I do risk interacting with people, they often think they can “cure” me by pointing out all the reasons I have to NOT be depressed. Please believe me that this only makes things worse. It’s basically like telling a person who is pregnant to suck in their tummy.
How can a person who spends their time promoting “Funism” and “Random Acts of Kindness” be depressed? I have said before that my Not-so-random-acts-of-Funism are purely selfish acts of survival. When I can momentarily escape from the monster that is depression, I try to run to a place to help others- to spread happiness. More than once I have written in chalk- “The best way to make you feel good is to make someone else feel better.” I have faith in that. Funism is my spiritual foundation.
I don’t have any easy answers for people who want to help someone who is depressed. You can try to be there- but you may get pushed away. You can invite them somewhere, but they may not be capable of leaving their house. You can call them, but they may be sick of hearing their own voice.
If you love them, try. If they say no, try again in a while; an hour, a day, a week later. Send a card, poke them on Facebook, do what you can. Do it for yourself, in case they don’t survive, you can say “I did everything I could”. In my heart, etched in scars, are the names of people I wish I had tried harder for.
Again, this is not a “cry for help” I am on my way to chalk up the city- to leave a garden of painted skateboards for other people to find. I may save someone’s life today.